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Alphabet’s DeepMind takes on billion-dollar debt as loss spirals

(Bloomberg) --DeepMind, the artificial-intelligence company owned by Google parent Alphabet Inc., saw its revenue almost double last year, but gains were dwarfed by losses that increased to hundreds of millions of dollars.

The London-based company also has more than a billion dollars of debt due for repayment this year, according to full-year accounts for the year ended Dec. 31 posted to U.K. business registry Companies House.

Losses for 2018 widened to 470.2 million pounds ($572 million) from 302.2 million pounds in 2017. Revenue rose to 102.8 million pounds, up from 54.4 million pounds. Staff costs also nearly doubled against the year-ago period to 398 million pounds in 2018.

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A debt of 1.04 billion pounds due this year includes an 883 million-pound loan from its owner. DeepMind had written assurances it would be financially supported for at least another year.

“Our DeepMind for Google team continues to make great strides bringing our expertise and knowledge to real-world challenges at Google scale, nearly doubling revenue in the past year,” a spokeswoman for the company said in a statement. “We will continue to invest in fundamental research and our world-class, interdisciplinary team, and look forward to the breakthroughs that lie ahead.”

Alphabet Inc. bought DeepMind for 400 million pounds in 2014. The next year, the company began working on health-care research, eventually creating an entire division dedicated to the area.

The company works with the U.K. National Health Service hospitals, researching algorithms that can diagnose eye diseases and spot head and neck cancers from medical imagery, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on an algorithm that can predict which patients are at risk of sudden deterioration from acute kidney injury and other conditions.

Bloomberg News